Being a mobile developer is not all it's cracked up to be, but it's manageable, and possible to be successful. Despite all the thoughts of millions of downloads, not everyone gets those. Probably relatively few. But we do survive, but only if we spread out our risk. It's somewhat like how people invest. If you spread out your investments over various types of items, if one area tanks, another will thrive. In the end, you have an even amount of return on your investment and a good balance. In this post, I'll explore some of the Catch22's of running a successful mobile software development company. I hope you will find some thoughts that will help with yours, or give you a better understanding of what you are getting into if you are just starting, or to help you better insight of our company, Creative Algorithms.
I have been very bad at writing on my blog; it's been a very long time. I think over the past year a shift has happened in my life, where I've focused less on starting our business and more on maintaining it and focusing on life balance. I've been through the iterations of what works, and what doesn't, in marketing and applied these where I could. We have evolved into a very steady flow of app income and also contract work income. We've found a good balance of work and family/personal time as well. I've become immersed in the martial arts and focusing on the feeling of well-being. Our whole family (all five of us) are doing karate and we feel good, having a family-focused activity, having developed important friendships, having become healthier, plus the endorphins are bar none. The schedule also helps us keep us in a routine. This blog post is rather disjointed, but I wanted to share with you how reviews have increased our sales, and how we've achieved a new, comfortable phase of our business.
Right now voting for the Top 25 Tech Moms is in progress over at Circle of Moms for top tech mom bloggers. Last year I placed #7 in the top 25 list, thanks to my readers, our customers, friends, and family. It was an exciting ride. Placing helps our business because we get a lot of exposure from Circle of Moms, as they feature the winners. We also get to do a write up about what our blog is about, and mention our products/apps, which helps as well. As I wrote in my last post, the more sales we have of our apps, the more time we have to devote to improving the existing apps, rather than resort to contract work to meet our bills. So it's a win-win for us and our customers. That said, hopefully you'll take a few minutes to click this voting link (or the one to the right - Circle of Moms - Top 25 - Vote for Me) and then click the heart button to vote. If you've got even more time, you can vote every 24 hrs thru March 6th. Thank you for your support, as always!
The new AppStore, redesigned for iOS6, has been out for just over a week now. Speaking recently at 360iDev, I stressed the importance of great shelf design in the AppStore as part of your marketing plan. Getting to know the new design is key to understanding how it will affect browsing, discovery, and buying habits, especially for developers, but also for consumers. I've been playing with the store all week, on several devices, including the new iPhone5, the iPad, and my old iPhone4. I've found, sales-wise, that some things have improved, some have been unaffected. The new AppStore was obviously designed with the iPad in mind—the cards work/look so much better on the iPad—there's more screen real estate, especially in landscape, so the the side scrolling is a plus. The iPhone5's speed was most likely a huge consideration—the new store screams on the iPhone5, but is slow and kludgy on the iPhone4. (I shudder to think how it is on the 3GS.) On older devices, the icons are slow to load; it reminds me of surfing the web on dial-up (well maybe not THAT slow). The new AppStore includes a few areas only previously exposed and featured on the desktop iTunes store—the “What's New?” and “What's Hot?” per category. We've been featured in this area with each of our new releases, but alas these apps have had little exposure because who shops via iTunes desktop any more? This post will cover details on what's new, what's missing, how it affects our app shopping experiences, and how as a developer we can maximize our sales potential by redesigning and focusing on certain areas of our shelf space.
I last mentioned I was one of the speakers at the 2012 360 iDev iOS developer conference. The session videos are now available on the 360iDev website. If you want to listen to my talk & see my slides on "Applying the 4P's of Marketing to Apps" you can download the video via the 360iDev website. There are a ton of great talks to choose from. Well worth a listen.
I just got back from a four day scout camping adventure with my son. It was nice to get away from technology for a while, but while I was gone, Apple changed their AppStore search algorithm! Our sales dropped by at least $30/day, which may not seem like a lot, but it adds up to $900/month, which is a major drop in income for a family trying to make a living off of the AppStore.
The new iPad (aka 3rd generation) adds a new complexity to universal apps this week—high resolution images and graphics—which could quickly fill up that 16/32/64 GB storage space. In addition, other things happened this week—the 20 MB download limit over non-wifi (3G/4G/4LTE) increased to 50 MB. Updates are no longer showing up in New Releases. Considerations for going Universal may now shift. This post will discuss some of things to consider when deciding on a universal app vs a device-specific app.
Customer service can make or break your apps. Most people contact customer service for help, to complain, or to vent frustrations. If you're lucky, you'll get a rare email that raves about your app. Polite, prompt, and helpful responses can prevent frustrated customers from venting on the reviews, which can affect your overall rating, or even sales, if the reviewer brings up a perceived flaw of your app (merited or not!). Managing your customers satisfaction doesn't have to be hard. This post will cover some tips on a common sense approach to customer contact and how to provide exceptional customer service.
Launch an app, tell everyone about it, hope for an Apple feature, and spread the word. The three key promotional aspects of marketing your app are Launch Blitz, Apple Features, and Word of Mouth. A developer has the most control with the first, very little control with the second, and indirect control of the third. All three feed each other, and using the 4 P's of Marketing: Product, Place (Distribution), Price, and Promotion will help in working these three aspects, which I've covered extensively in my seven part series, Applying the 4 P's of Marketing to Apps. This final post of the series will touch upon the loose ends of promotion and conclude with a spreadsheet you can download and use to make your own marketing plans.
App complete, check. App tested, check. App submitted to Apple, check. Pre-launch promotion prep work done, check. Now what? It's all about the timing. Based on our experience in the AppStore, there are three things that contribute most to sales numbers: 1) Getting noticed by Apple (and being featured) 2) Word of mouth and 3) Launch Blitz. I discussed the strategy for getting noticed by Apple in previous 4 P's posts: make a great product, include new iOS tech, follow the HIG, have a polished icon and screens. Word of mouth is just the snowball effect—the more people own (and use) your app, the more they tell their friends, the more you sell. Ensure this by making a great product, providing excellent customer service, providing convenient ways to share your app with others and cross-selling, up-selling within your app. This post will focus on the third item, the blitz of promotion at launch, where you bring out all your promotional tactics at the same time, to get your app noticed in bulk.